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New cutting-edge trains in full operation across Thameslink route

Press Release   •   Sep 18, 2017 10:00 BST

Carl Edwards, Station Manager at Brighton and Paul Bradley (Driver Manager) give a thumbs up with train driver Alan Stacey at Brighton Station before the new 12-carriage Thameslink Class 700 departs at Brighton this morning (18 September)
  • Thameslink trains now three times longer at Brighton, Gatwick and London Bridge

Passengers travelling between London Bridge, Gatwick Airport and Brighton now have brand new Thameslink trains that are up to three times longer giving more space and more seats.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has withdrawn the last of its older trains from this off-peak service, replacing them with cutting-edge Siemens Class 700 carriages.

The 12-carriage trains replace the mostly four-carriage (weekdays) and eight-carriage (Saturdays) twice-hourly service, creating 9,000 extra seats each weekday and much more space for passengers at Gatwick and families heading for the coast.

All the trains across Thameslink’s entire network are now new Class 700s. These travel between Brighton, St Albans and Bedford, Sevenoaks, Wimbledon and Sutton crossing central London via Blackfriars.

Trains on the wider network run with 8 carriages and 12 carriages. More 12-carriage trains will be introduced early next year as additional stabling facilities are built in Bedford.

GTR Engineering Director Gerry McFadden said: “Thameslink is now a Class 700-only route marking a significant milestone in our journey of modernisation towards a new high-frequency service through central London.

“Right now it means trains up to three times longer on the off-peak services between Brighton, Gatwick Airport and London Bridge and from May next year hundreds of thousands of new passengers from east Kent, Sussex, Cambridge and Peterborough will be plugged into the cross-London route when the Thameslink network expands.”

The trains have a spacious design and cutting-edge information systems that will tell passengers how London’s Tube trains are running and even which direction to walk to find more space on the train.

The new Class 700 trains have:

  • Wider doors and aisles to make getting on and off easier
  • Spacious walkways between carriages to make it easier to move through the train to give a greater sense of security
  • Two-by-two seating to create more room
  • Lots of luggage space – essential for airport travellers
  • Adaptive climate-controlled air conditioning
  • Electronic signs showing which carriages have more space to sit or stand
  • Screens with real time service information from London Underground
  • Fully accessible toilets for disabled passengers and those with pushchairs or needing baby changing facilities
  • Spaces for full sized bikes in the off-peak; storage for fold-up bikes in the peak

During the summer holidays, 3.4 million journeys were made with GTR to and from Gatwick airport, on Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Southern.

Paul Maynard, Rail Minister said: “I am delighted we have reached this significant milestone for the multi-billion pound Thameslink Programme. It shows how our investment in the railways is delivering better journeys for passengers across the network, as well as supporting jobs and growth.

“This new fleet of hi-tech trains is now making a real difference for passengers, giving them more space and more comfort. This investment will transform north-south travel across London and the south east by a providing a modern, accessible service in time for the expanded Thameslink network from 2018.”

Vernon Barker, Managing Director of the Rail Systems business at Siemens UK which manufactures and maintains the Class 700 trains, said: “We are really pleased to mark this major milestone in the introduction of the state-of-the-art Class 700, which is one of the largest and most technologically advanced fleets of trains ever introduced in the UK. With almost half* of the high-tech fleet now in service, passengers will really start to experience the full benefits of these modern and innovative trains through more comfortable and reliable journeys in and out of London.”

Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer, Gatwick Airport, said: “Gatwick continues to grow with record numbers of passengers travelling through the airport every month. These new carriages are ideally suited for air travellers and the longer trains will make a real difference to the increasing number of passengers using the airport and travelling by rail.

“The new Thameslink trains also form part of the exciting transformation of rail services at Gatwick. By 2018, rail capacity through Gatwick will have doubled in just 10 years and our passengers will start to see the benefit of trains leaving the airport for London with Tube-like frequency every three minutes.”

Passenger numbers on parts of the GTR network have doubled in as little as 12 years. GTR is addressing this by modernising the railway, much of it through the government-sponsored £7bn Thameslink Programme, introducing new trains to run over new infrastructure, often using new working practices.


For more information email or call Thameslink press office: 0203 750 2031

Notes to editors

Since GTR was formed in 2014, GTR has overseen a massive influx of new trains. So far, GTR has withdrawn, cascaded or introduced almost 300 trains across Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern

115 Class 700s will be introduced in service – 55 x 12-carriage trains and 60 x 8-coach trains. 55 of these are now in passenger service (16 x 12-carriage trains and 39 x 8-carriage trains)

Thameslink’s previous trains are being used to improve services elsewhere in the country. Class 377 trains used on the Brighton-Gatwick-London route are now working Southern routes; Class 377 trains used on the Bedford route have transferred to Southeastern to lengthen their metro routes

Thameslink Programme

  • These new Thameslink trains, built by Siemens, are a vital element of the Government-sponsored Thameslink Programme which is transforming north-south travel through London. This will increase capacity and improve connectivity to help meet the demands of rising passenger numbers on one of Europe’s busiest stretches of railway.
  • It has already led to improvements at key stations with lengthened platforms able to accommodate longer trains. From 2018, passengers will benefit from new trains, new stations, more reliable journeys and services to new destinations, giving customers:
  • Improved connections and better choices to more destinations on an expanded Thameslink network
  • New track and signalling systems, offering more reliable journeys, with fewer delays
  • Network Rail is rebuilding London Bridge with more space, much better accessibility and improved facilities for passengers
  • Find out more at or follow @TLProgramme

More capacity today and tomorrow

The introduction of the new 12 and 8 carriage Class 700 trains will significantly increase capacity across all routes, and provide more peak seats across London, between Blackfriars and London St Pancras International. Certain routes such as the Wimbledon/Sutton and Sevenoaks routes can accommodate only 8-carriage trains due to platform lengths and conflicting infrastructure such as road bridges. The new trains, however, can carry many more people in comfort, even in eight-carriage format. Here are some highlights:

  • More 12-carriage trains between Brighton, Gatwick Airport and the Blackfriars London St Pancras International, Thameslink cross-London route via London Bridge
  • An additional 1,000 seats along the Brighton to London route
  • By the end of 2018, the spacious new trains will run through central London under automatic control every 2-3 minutes – up to 24 trains per hour in each direction
  • Inner central London capacity will increase with 80% more peak time seats from 2018
  • Quicker journey times from Brighton to London Bridge and Blackfriars
  • More services from Bedford with a significant increase in seats from St Albans to London
  • More seats from Peterborough and Cambridge to London and direct services to Farringdon (for Crossrail), London Bridge and Gatwick
  • Turn up and go service from East Croydon to London Bridge and the Blackfriars London St Pancras International cross-London route
  • New trains for suburban services on the Wimbledon Loop and Sevenoaks routes

Better connections, more destinations, more frequent

  • New expanded Thameslink network to give 140 stations (80 more than today) direct access to St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars in central London, all via the new station at London Bridge, relieving the Piccadilly, Victoria and Northern Tube lines
  • Interchange for all 140 stations with Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) at Farringdon
  • 80% more peak time seats between London Blackfriars and St Pancras International across central London
  • Massive increase in number of Thameslink trains at London Bridge
  • New direct Thameslink routes through London between:
    • Cambridge and Brighton
    • Horsham and Peterborough
    • Cambridge and Maidstone East (with some extensions to Ashford International)
    • Luton and Kent Medway Towns (e.g. Greenwich and Dartford)
    • Littlehampton and Bedford
    • East Grinstead and Bedford
  • Faster, seamless journeys: Cambridge to Gatwick Airport 20% faster; Greenwich to Luton Airport 37% faster; 10-15 minutes quicker to Canary Wharf and Paddington via Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) at Farringdon

New, more spacious trains

  • At peak times on many key routes, the new Class 700 Thameslink trains will be 50% longer.
  • Designed to meet the demands of a mix of short (within London) and longer distance commuters, the new trains can carry up to 1,750 people seated and standing – that’s around 21 full double decker London buses!
  • During the peak, that’s the equivalent of over 400 buses going from one side of London to the other, in both directions, every hour.
  • This is to help meet the huge growth in passenger numbers.
  • By the end of 2018, there will be 115 new Class 700 trains in operation, providing a frequent service of up to 24 trains per hour across central London, between Blackfriars and London St Pancras International at peak times
  • These innovative trains will also be the first in Europe to use both the European Train Control System (ETCS) and Automatic Train Operation (ATO) devices together, providing industry leading standards in passenger safety

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, and employs around 6,500 people. Its aim is to improve services across all four networks.

Ticket revenue is passed to the government which pays GTR a fee to operate the franchise which is adjusted according to how well the train service is performing.

Southern has the highest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.

GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.

The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network

GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.

The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.,,,